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Sussex Woman Speaks Out To Share Inspirational Message With Sexual Abuse Victims

In 2021, Sarah Carvey reported to Sussex Police that her step-father, Brian Hoad, groomed and raped her when she was a child in the 1980s.

In July, Hoad was jailed for 18 years.

Sarah has waived the anonymity given to victims of sexual offences to share her inspirational message to other victims – talk about your experiences, take back control and help the police and our partners get you the justice you deserve.

Sarah's message:

I was groomed and sexually abused by my step-father from the age of 12.

There’s no need for the details and semantics to be repeated here – that's not why I’m writing this.

The purpose of this is to speak to you – yes, you.

It’s likely (if you’ve stopped scrolling long enough to read this far) that childhood sexual abuse has affected your life in some way. Whether you were a direct victim or affected vicariously by a friend or loved one’s experience.

It’s a subject that most right-minded people find uncomfortable to imagine and very difficult to discuss.

Sadly, for many victims it’s a secret kept for extended periods of their lives.

The reasons for keeping these secrets are manifold but in part may stem from a mistaken sense of shame and guilt. And that speaking out may lead to disbelief, upset and anger, which they perceive may come from those around them.

The effects of childhood sexual abuse are far reaching. From one abuser the effects can and do cause widespread devastation for the abused child and their wider families and friends.

As an abused child (now well into adulthood) once the secret is out it can feel overwhelming – as the police investigate and you are forced to deal with the reaction of those around you.

In as much as you felt you didn’t have control over your own body and mind as a victim, handing over your truth to others can feel just as uncontrolled and frightening.

There are so many ways in which an abuser takes control not only of your body but grooms and manipulates the way you think and feel about yourself. The things they say affect your psychological and emotional development and behaviours, long after the abuse itself may have ceased.

The lies they tell are insidious and often remain in the psyche, sometimes without you being aware of it, for many, many years.

But I want to tell you there is a really positive way in which you can take back control and change your thinking.

Speak about it. It takes real courage, but do it.

Don’t allow your abuser to hold your psychological well-being hostage a moment longer.

If you feel you can, tell the police. No matter how many years it’s been.

There’s no way to ‘sugar coat’ it - the legal process is tough. Really tough. But the police are willing to listen without judgement and real empathy. If there’s a chance of justice, they’ll pull out all the stops to get it. They also put you in touch with great charitable services to offer you emotional support and counselling throughout your journey.

It isn’t an easy or pleasant thing to do. During the telling of your truth, you will have to go over situations and intimate details which you may have kept hidden for a very long time, and re-visit the hideous emotions associated with them. It will invariably affect your loved ones, perhaps your working life. But for all that, the one person’s life you will undoubtedly affect will be that of your abuser.

Your bravery will allow you to take back some control which was stolen from you. And perhaps in doing so prevent your abuser from abusing others. You may even be able to inspire others to come forward. You have that much power. You really do!

However, I’m very well aware that sadly not all victims get the justice they deserve. Not every paedophile is convicted as the result of a survivor having the courage to go to the police and tell their truth. But please believe me when I tell you that sometimes all it takes to move forward with your life in a really positive way is to know that you’ve been heard and believed. It’s that validation that can change your entire life. And those great charitable services I told you about? They’re available to you regardless of the legal status of your case to help you move forward to a really positive future.

Sadly, for some survivors whose abusers have died, the chance for legal justice may not be possible.  For them, we as families, friends and a wider society can create an openness which allows them the security to speak out. To free themselves from the terrible burden they felt forced to carry alone. I’ll bet if you asked around the people you see every day, you’d be surprised by how common childhood sexual abuse is. 

Go with your instincts. Don’t be afraid to ask the question. Even if all you can offer is a listening ear or the opportunity to suggest someone seeks counselling. The impact for that person may be life changing.

Perhaps this article could be your starting point?  You never know, you might be that one person that someone has been waiting for to trust with their truth. Hug them. Hold them close to you. Tell them that you love them and that it doesn’t change the way you feel about them.

But most importantly, validate their experience. Reassure them that they are believed. Let’s create more open conversations so the abused don’t need to feel the shame and guilt which should never have been theirs to feel. 

I’m an ordinary person from an ordinary family who went to the police to tell my truth and they believed me. Better than that, they valued and validated my experiences, not just by getting a conviction, but simply by agreeing that what I’d been through was wrong and that the shame and guilt I felt, I didn’t need to feel anymore. That is now the burden for my abuser to carry for the rest of his life, convicted and imprisoned or not.


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